The Truth About Pacifiers

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Pacifiers are not a new fad, they’ve been around for centuries. They are known to soothe babies and studies have recently shown they also lower the risk for SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome). However, although these uses are all well and good, using pacifiers for an extended amount of time can cause dental issues to arise.

Random Facts About Pacifiers

  • Pacifiers were invented at the beginning of the 20th century. There was even a soothing rag pictured in a 16th century painting.
  • The nipples have changed a bit in shape, but the design has stayed consistent since 1950.
  • Babies find comfort in pacifiers because it reminds them of the womb. Sucking is one of the five womb senses, so they feel at peace when experiencing this. The sucking reflex power that calms babies is fascinating. It lowers their heart rate, stress level, and blood pressure.
  • All of a baby’s nutrients comes from sucking. When they are an infant, they will practice this 8 to 12 times a day. Babies feel comfort while getting a full belly, so it’s normal for them to want to suck on a pacifier to replicate this feeling.

How Pacifiers Can Be Detrimental

From the time a baby is born until the age of two, a child will develop quite fast. Prolonging the use of a pacifier during this time can affect oral development. Overuse of a pacifier can cause their jaw to grow around it and can also cause an overbite and teeth to become crooked. This can also lead to bite problems such as an underbite, overbite, and crossbite (also known as “pacifier teeth”). Not only is it causing pacifier teeth but, not using the soother properly can lead to tooth decay, receding gums, and cavities. For infants and up to six months of age, the American Dental Association suggests that parents use a clean, unsweetened pacifiers. Pacifiers that are covered in sugar, honey, or corn syrup cause tooth decay (this is a common tactic to help soothe a child as well). Try to avoid placing your child’s soother in their mouth after it has fallen on the ground. Bacteria can cause tooth decay, leading to cavities, not to mention the other health implications connected to this habit.

Some parents steer clear of ever offering their baby a pacifier, in fear they are encouraging a bad habit. However, as long as a pacifier is used in moderation and removed after a certain age, there truly is no issue. There are several pro and cons when deciding whether or not to try a pacifier for your little one. If they aren’t interested in the soother, don’t push. They may be small but they will either take to it or not. If your little one does, they usually will break the habit on their own between the ages of 2 and 4, if they don’t there are systems designed to help, or you can always reach out to a local pediatric dentist for tips and pointers.